By BRIAN WALKER
Work has begun on a two-year, $42 million project that will create an intersection on U.S. 95 at Highway 53, replace a bridge and extend Government Way to Garwood Road.
Construction is underway on Highway 53 between Ramsey Road and U.S. 95 as crews widen the shoulders and remove trees west of 95 to accommodate a new alignment, Idaho Transportation Department spokeswoman Megan Sausser said.
The stretch will be reduced to one lane during the day for about two weeks.
"This is the beginning of construction to reconfigure several roadways near the current U.S. 95 junctions with Highway 53 and Garwood Road north of Hayden," Sausser said.
The project is expected to be finished in fall 2021.
Traffic on U.S. 95 will not be affected for the majority of construction, but motorists on Highway 53 will be detoured around the bridge and interchange construction to Garwood Road via Old U.S. 95, Sausser said.
Work in August will include installing a temporary signal at Highway 53 and Ramsey to help with extra traffic during later detours. Signal installation is expected to take a week with intermittent lane closures. A signal will be replaced with a permanent one in 2022 under a different project.
After the temporary signal is installed, traffic will be detoured in late August as the 1936 bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad and the new interchange for U.S. 95 and Highway 53 are built. That work is expected to run through fall 2020.
The existing UP bridge is falling into disrepair and has no shoulders, creating a hazard for motorists and cyclists. The new bridge will feature 6-foot shoulders on both sides.
In 2020 and 2021, frontage roads and an overpass at Garwood Road will be constructed. Government Way will be extended from Highway 53 to Garwood Road.
Highway 53 will be realigned so it's at a 90-degree angle to U.S. 95 instead of 45 degrees. As a result, the speed limit will be 45 mph instead of 25.
The project will also extend the bike facilities from Ramsey Road to the trail east of U.S. 95. Currently there are no bike lanes along Highway 53 just west of U.S. 95.
Most of the project is being funded through Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds. The Idaho Legislature in 2017 authorized $300 million in bonds statewide for transportation projects that benefit safety and mobility. Another $13.9 million in federal aid is helping fund the U.S. 95 project.
GARVEE bonds enable ITD to accelerate construction timelines, are paid back over 18 years and are backed solely by future federal aid.
Email updates on the project are available by subscribing at itdprojects.org/us95id53. For more information, call 208-334-8000.